The results of the cavalry battles of the Old World. H. 5

Evolution of the Russian cavalry

We will not consider in detail the organizational development of the Russian cavalry during the First World War - devoting one of the nearest articles to this. We are interested in evolution itself - rather, even the tendencies of the latter.

By the beginning of World War I, Russia had 123 cavalry, Cossack, and equestrian-foreign regiments and three divisions. Having scattered numerous cavalry at the beginning of the war on the entire vast front from the Baltic to the Dniester and the Caucasian Front, the Russian command gave almost all the cavalry (in the form of separate divisions) to the armies. The cavalry arrangement of the cavalry along the German-Austrian border did not correspond to the general idea of ​​offensives on the Galician and East Prussian fronts. On the eve of the war, this peculiar equestrian cordon was historical a relic - after all, such a deployment of cavalry was a reaction to the task of a massive invasion of cavalry into areas of mobilization and concentration of the enemy - in order to confuse the enemy with cards in the unfolding strategic game. In the future, for various reasons, the Stavka abandoned the idea of ​​a massive invasion, confining itself only to setting goals for certain cavalry divisions to destroy sections of railway lines on enemy territory. Thus, the cordon arrangement of the cavalry remained a form devoid of its previous content.

The deployment plan indicates the absence of an idea of ​​applying massated horse mass, aimed at the most important operational areas. The spread of Russian cavalry on the front from the Baltic to the Dnieper was the main reason that during this (most responsible) period of maneuvering war, the role of the Russian cavalry did not manifest itself with the clarity that could be expected with such superiority in cavalry over the enemy. But if the original plan was based on the idea of ​​a complete defeat of the Austrian army and, accordingly, if 3 - 4 cavalry corps (10 - 12 cavalry divisions) were concentrated on the left flank of the Southwestern Front, which was favored by the area and the infrastructure of the theater), such powerful cavalry masses played a huge role during the Galich-Lviv operation.

Errors in the deployment of the Russian cavalry (recall the famous phrase of Moltke the Elder that errors in the initial deployment are extremely difficult to correct during the entire campaign) also affected further operations — and, despite its large number, the cavalry did not have enough at the right moment in all key operations. The lack of cavalry was felt in September 1914 - during the pursuit of the defeated Austrian army after the Battle of Galicia, in October 1914 during the pursuit of the defeated Warsaw-Ivangorod operation of the German 9-th army. Russians from everywhere picked up cavalry to throw it into the area of ​​Shavli-Kovno - when 1915 German cavalry divisions, supported by infantry formations, were thrown there in the spring of 3. The same situation was repeated in September of 1915 - when the German cavalcourse of O. von Garnier from the 4's cavalry division, occupying Art. Sventsyany, rushed to the area of ​​art. Molodechno and Deep. The Russians at this point in this sector were quantitatively inferior to the German cavalry, since they had their own scattered on a huge front, and not concentrated in large masses on the most important directions.

At the end of 1915, when the Russian troops, coming out of the "Polish bag", entrenched themselves on the natural strategic front, a positional war began. During this period of hostilities, the Russian cavalry was partially retracted, and partly together with the infantry (in rotation) occupied the sectors of the front. Cavalry rifle units appeared to replace the infantry.

The evolution that had to be experienced during the war of the Western cavalry took place in our country, retaining, however, its specific features - stemming primarily from the specifics of the extensive and (mostly) flat theater.

Although the positional period had an impact, causing doubts in views on the role and importance of cavalry among the higher command, the view on the need to increase the firepower of the cavalry took root tightly.

The active operations of the positional period of the war were expressed in the form of a breakthrough of the enemy front - and the result of the breakthrough could be exploited only during the quick subsequent strike of a powerful cavalry mass. But, unfortunately, the idea of ​​using cavalry as a mobile reserve in the course of a positional war was not adequately manifested - and at the right moment, with successful breakthroughs during the 1916 and 1917 attacks. there was no mighty cavalry reserve acting with the necessary force in the right place. Although the relevant projects were available. In particular, in the winter of 1916 - 1917, when the General Headquarters discussed the prospects for the Allied and Russian armies to launch a joint offensive in the spring of 1917, General Headquarters Headquarters Chief Officer General M. Alekseev realized the acute need for a massive cavalry reserve in light of the upcoming large-scale active operations. The need arose from the specifics of the vast and flat Russian theater of war, moreover, it was rather poorly rugged by railways. It became clear that the strategic conditions of the Russian theater had changed very little since 1812, supplemented only by a rare railway network. And MV Alekseev often recalled Napoleon's cavalry reserve - 4 cavalry corps, formed by the emperor in 1812 - before the invasion of the Russian plain and united in the hands of a talented cavalry commander I. Murat.

The development of a plan for the general advance of the Entente armies anticipated in the spring of 1917 led to the appearance in the Headquarters of a project for the use of cavalry masses as a mobile reserve. The principle of the so-called. “4 lines” (or echelons): 1st line - regular cavalry, moving ahead in contact with the enemy, provided with powerful artillery, aviation and automobile units (with this line there was the head of the cavalry masses with headquarters - other lines were subordinate to them); 2nd line - mounted or riding infantry, it moves behind the 1st line as direct support; 3rd line - infantry transported (on horses or carts) (moving behind the 2nd line as its support); 4th line - rifle units - support for mobile (transported) infantry. An interesting project was not destined to be realized - the coup that erupted in 1917 prevented the Allied alleged general offensive from being carried out.

During the Civil War also failed to avoid fluctuations of views on the role of the cavalry of the Red Army. In the initial period, the organizations of the Red Army decided that the cavalry as a branch of service had the last word - proceeding to the formation of mainly divisional cavalry for the calculation of one 4-squadron regiment for a rifle division. Army cavalry, it was decided to have only 2 divisions.

The formation of cavalry is not easy. It required the availability of suitable conditions: appropriate horses, trained human staffing, experienced command personnel. At the same time, the majority of the Cossacks found themselves in the camp of the Whites, and the former cavalrymen of the non-Cossack element found themselves in large numbers in the south of Russia - Ukraine (areas of the former South-West Font), and were cut off by the Germans from the center of Russia. The steppes of the south-east and south of Russia, rich in horses, also ended up outside the young Republic. The cavalry of the Red Army, born in such difficult conditions, was, moreover, to immediately enter into battle with the strong cavalry of the enemy.

It is not surprising that at first the formation of the cavalry of the Red Army advanced slowly. Waiting for people, horses, weapons and equipment of the cavalry division "withered" in the rear, while at the front in fierce battles with the powerful cavalry of the opponent, the red infantry, beating the latter, suffered heavy losses.

The absence of an army (strategic) cavalry was already evident in the first year of the Civil War - in 1918. Sprayed and weak divisional cavalry could not solve serious problems. And the front command began independently to divide the divisional cavalry into larger units (brigades), and also to form cavalry units.

Thus, the army cavalry was born at the front, while the cavalry divisions formed in the rear continued to "turn sour" - until they were thrown to the front in an undeformed state.

Year of hostilities, hard and heavy fighting became the best school for cavalry. She received her commanders. Already at the beginning of 1919, S. M. Budyonny and V. M. Primakov were nominated - talented commanders who successfully managed large cavalry masses in a vast theater of war.

In the summer - in the autumn of 1919, when the forces of the All-Soviet Union of Armed Forces launched a decisive offensive, pushing the red armies to the north, the cavalry raid of K.K. Mamontov, affecting the reds, became a new stage in the development of the red cavalry - convincingly proving the need to increase the cavalry of the Red Army.

The results of the cavalry battles of the Old World. H. 5

With the local military enlistment offices throughout the country began the accelerated formation of cavalry. Squadrons and regiments came together, boiling down into larger units, or sent to the front as reinforcements. Equestrian combat became one of the most effective forms of cavalry combat use. Already in the fields near Voronezh, the cavalry of the Red Army struck the first powerful blow to the white cavalry, and then rushed to the Kuban and the Don.

Then she moved to the Polish theater.

1-I Cavalry Army, making a thousand-kilometer march and concentrating in the area of ​​Uman, 25. 05. 1920 received an order, which placed on it the main shock task - by attacking Kazatin to destroy the enemy, seizing his material part.

The breakthrough of 1 of the Polish Cavalry Front at Skvira (02. 06. 1920) was the beginning of the defeat of the Polish army by the troops of the South-Western Front. The Poles, squeezed by the Western and Southwestern fronts, began to roll back - trying to linger on wooded and wooded-swampy defensive positions.

Winning heavy battles on the rugged terrain of the Dubno-Rovno region, bravely unclasping infantry mites, sustaining air strikes, the red cavalry did a great deal of operational work, having appeared under the walls of Lviv.

In the same period, another large equestrian mass, commanded by GD Guy, made a deep strategic scope — bypassing the left flank of the Polish front. The old Russian fortresses of Osovets and Grodno became trophies of the red cavalry soldiers who completed the march on the banks of the Vistula.

The Soviet-Polish war demonstrated how large cavalry formations and formations operating on the enemy’s flank and rear can influence the course of the operation.

Thus, summing up, we note that the evolution of the French, German and Russian (red) cavalry went in different ways. The Franco-German cavalry followed the path of numerical reduction and a serious increase in firepower. The Western cavalry, which at the start of World War I was a mobile force intended for cold weaponsBy the end of the war, she became the owner of powerful fire weapons - so, by the power of the fire, the French Cavalry Division by the end of the war (in its composition, as we noted earlier, there was a pedestrian regiment and an armored squadron) could be compared to an infantry division. Like the infantry, the French cavalry is a compound operating primarily through fire, but moving and maneuvering like traditional cavalry. The French cavalry remained cavalry only when moving and maneuvering, becoming a battle in the infantry.

Red cavalry, realizing the traditions of the Russian, laid down the path of increasing not only the firepower and strength, but also the path of full preservation of cavalry qualities - continuing to act in battle not only on foot, but also in equestrian ranks.

A huge influence on the military work of the cavalry of the Red Army in the Civil War was its unification into large masses (cavalry armies and corps) - in the hands of young and energetic military leaders, as well as its use in key operational areas. Favored by the success of the red cavalry and features a vast flathead theater. If even in the presence of massive armies, moving into each other during World War I, the East European theater of war was favorable for the operational activities of cavalry, then in the context of the Civil war with relatively small armies, this theater simply required strong cavalry as an important tool for achieving success. And, more than ever, the maneuver re-entered its rights. Bypassing the flanks and going to the rear of the enemy, the cavalry becomes a kind of troops not only contributing to success, but also often seeking the latter on their own. It was the cavalry that became the hammer that breached the enemy front. The breakthroughs of the red cavalry at Kastornaya and Kupyansk (1919) and in Skvira (1920) brought its leader SM Budyonny in the foreign literature to the reputation of “Red Murat” and “Soviet Mackensen”.

Finally, a big role in the successes of the red cavalry was played by the saturation of its firepower - artillery, machine guns, armored cars and airplanes. The cavalry acquired tremendous striking power — which the cavalry did not know in previous wars. And everything happened with exactly the opposite - the technique did not undermine the power of the cavalry, but became an excellent means - by multiplying the combat power of cavalry.

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  1. 0
    29 July 2018 06: 45
    The cavalry of the French remained cavalry only when moving and maneuvering, turning in battle into infantry.
    Red cavalry, realizing the traditions of the Russian, went along the way increasing not only firepower and strength, but also along the path of fully preserving cavalry qualities - continuing in battle act not only on foot, but also in horse systems.
    The path was the same, just the red cavalry passed it later than the French: in the Second World War, she also fought in battle as an infantry, and maneuvered and moved like cavalry.
    The French cavalry back in WWI was faced with such a lethal density of fire, in which it was forced to do so.
    1. +6
      29 July 2018 08: 57
      Not just the red cavalry passed him later than the French.
      Affected as rightly noted in the article, the specifics of the extensive theater of operations and other factors.
      Density of fire everywhere was powerful. By the way, there were cases that in World War II, the Soviet cavalry acted just like cavalry, and not only maneuvered.
      1. +1
        29 July 2018 09: 16
        Quote: XII Legion
        Not just the red cavalry passed him later than the French.

        That is what went the same way, only later.
        Quote: XII Legion
        Fire density everywhere was powerful

        They themselves said:
        Quote: XII legion
        specificity of an extensive theater of operations and other factors.
        So it couldn’t be the same.

        Quote: XII Legion
        By the way, there were cases that in World War II, the Soviet cavalry acted just like cavalry, and not only maneuvered

        Exceptions, not from a good life.
        1. MPN
          29 July 2018 12: 48
          Quote: Olgovich
          Exceptions, not from a good life.

          In a counter-offensive near Moscow, cavalry had advantages in maneuver and in the possibilities of developing an offensive in breakthroughs. Here, it was as if its advantages were used in comparison with other species in these conditions (winter, snow, frost did not allow the use of something else with such efficiency), and not from a bad life ....
          1. 0
            29 July 2018 16: 41
            Quote: MPN
            In a counter-offensive near Moscow, cavalry had advantages in maneuver and offensive development opportunities

            The third I repeat: in maneuvering and moving, cavalry was used as cavalry, while in battle it was used as infantry.
            The French came to this in the Great War.
            Quote: MPN
            In a counter-offensive near Moscow, cavalry had advantages in maneuver and in the possibilities of developing an offensive in breakthroughs. Here, it was as if its advantages were used in comparison with other species in these conditions (winter, snow, frost did not allow the use of something else with such efficiency), and not from a bad life ..

            No one on infantry machine guns or tanks in horse riding I didn’t go.
            1. +1
              29 July 2018 18: 48
              In the equestrian system, with few exceptions, cavalry did not go on machine guns.
              It’s just that the Russian cavalry sought opportunities for action in the equestrian system - safely capturing these machine guns. For example, an up-to-date VO article on the defeat by hussars of 2 Hungarian regiments.
  2. +3
    29 July 2018 06: 56
    I really liked the story of the Red Cavalry. Thanks to the author.
  3. +2
    29 July 2018 07: 44
    For some reason, such a tactical unit as the battalion was missed in the cavalry. Cavalry regiments were divided immediately into hundreds, and subsequently into squadrons. In the Red Army in the squadron at different times there were from 120 to 160 sabers. The regiment was from three to 6 squadrons. The cavalry regiment also included a machine-gun squadron and an artillery battery of 122 mm. howitzers. Subsequently, the battery turned into a division by adding an anti-tank 2-gun battery of 45 mm guns and a tank squadron of 16 T-26 tanks was added.
    In the years of the Second World War, from 1944, mixed associations (armies) were used quite successfully: a "horse-mechanized group" consisting of several cavalry and mechanized, or tank corps. The most famous are the KMG Lieutenant General Pliev, Boldin.
    1. +3
      29 July 2018 09: 14
      Quote: bistrov.
      squadron of 16 T-26 tanks.

      Wrong, 16 tanks is the composition of the tank regiment in the cavalry division. In some cavalry regiments, in particular in 39, commanded by Zhukov, tank squadrons of 8-12 tanks were formed as an experiment, but were subsequently discontinued.

      Machine gun squadron in the cavalry regiment-16 machine guns "Maxim" on machine gun carts.
  4. +3
    29 July 2018 09: 00
    Very important and interesting trends.
    Indeed, the technique came to the aid of the cavalry and strengthened it.
    Thank you for the interesting cycle about the development of European cavalry in the 1st quarter of the 20th century.
    1. +3
      29 July 2018 14: 51
      Alekseyev liked the project
      Separation of mobile forces and supports
  5. 0
    29 July 2018 15: 53
    I read the article with interest, but nevertheless I express my disagreement with a number of the author’s conclusions, Maybe because it really became interesting:
    1. "The cavalry arrangement of the cavalry along the German-Austrian border did not correspond to the general idea of ​​offensives on the Galician and East Prussian fronts" - this location had the task of covering up the deployment of the Russian army, just here we must not forget about the significant lag in terms of mobilization. This measure, perhaps, was just right, especially in Galicia. The Austro-Hungarians, having excellent cavalry, and they themselves have actively used it since the end of July.
    2. "... speaks of the absence of the idea of ​​using massed large equestrian masses aimed at the most important operational areas." - for example, in the 1st Army (East Prussian operation) there was a Consolidated Cavalry Corps of Khan Nakhichevan - 4 excellent cavalry divisions could only be given to Causeni ...
    3. "The lack of cavalry was felt in September 1914 ...." - precisely because of the lack of military cavalry. Given the level of development of communications, the "freezing" of the cavalry in the corps and led to the fact that the defeated enemy was never really persecuted. Although the unsatisfactory command staff played a role here (except that Count Keller stood out against the general background).
    4. With regard to the experience of the Civil War, several factors must be taken into account, compared with the Great War:
    - the small number of enemy armies;
    - weak technical base;
    - impressionability and low discipline of the mobilized contingents.
    Hence the maneuverable nature of the fighting at the level of "large partisanism."
    And then, as soon as even a large formation such as the 1st Horse came across staunch infantry in tangible quantities, then the whole "cavalry tale" ended. The winter battles near Rostov in 1920, the battles near Lvov of the Soviet-Polish war, proved this with obviousness.
    I can be interested in recommending an article by A.K. Kelchevsky "Dumenko and Budyonny. The role, importance and tactics of cavalry in the Russian Civil War."
    I will allow myself one quote: "The role and importance of cavalry in our civil war is determined by the weak combat effectiveness of other branches of the army."
    1. +2
      29 July 2018 18: 07
      Yes, there were articles on the VO about the exact opposite: they broke up the prepared defense of the Poles.
    2. +3
      29 July 2018 18: 45
      And I, in turn, want to confirm the correctness of the conclusions of the author.
      1. The cordon arrangement of the cavalry really remained a form without content. For a large-scale invasion of enemy territory, the cavmass did not take place. And the cover is not the task to smear the entire cavalry along the front. Austria-Hungary, of course, had excellent cavalry, but many times less, so this is not an excuse. On the balance of power, in an article at the Higher Military School Cavalry Exam.
      2. and 3. Also true. The consolidated corps of Nakhichevan is a complete improvisation. Yes, there were no fists again. I’m silent about the application.
      The fact that the options were - say the actions of the 1st Cavalry Division Gurko.
      Not only Keller (the golden checker of Russia), but also Kaledin (the silver checker of Russia), mentioned by Gurko and other commanders, stood out.
      4. The specifics of the civil war have already been written: the extension of the fronts, the excessive sensitivity of the troops, etc. In particular, this author has a series of articles on artillery and armored vehicles in the Civil War.
      But in any case, indeed, the specifics of the theater of war, the character of Guards and traditions played a huge role.
      We can’t talk about the weak combat effectiveness of other branches of the armed forces. It is enough to recall, for example, the Drozdov, Markov and Alekseyev divisions and look at articles in the Military District on operations of the Soviet-Polish war and on the degree of saturation of troops with equipment and weapons (for example, the article Siblings. Russian Army and Red Army).
      1. 0
        30 July 2018 01: 26
        “For the large-scale invasion of enemy territory did not take place. And the cover is not the task to spread the entire cavalry on the front.” - i.e. your idea is to form 3-4 horse armies in advance and invade Germany and Austria-Hungary with the outbreak of war? And while the enemy is chasing the horsemen in their rear areas, deploy the rest of the army.
        It sounds great, of course, but how does it solve the problem of delay with mobilization terms? After all, this is Germany and Austria-Hungary declared war and had a serious head start in time. Even if the cavalry armies are knocked together in advance, they must also be transferred from a peaceful state. Again, the Germans have a dense railway network, the degree of urbanization of the territory is already quite high, and the area is not steppe. I'm afraid the adventure smells.
        "Not only Keller (the golden checker of Russia), but also Kaledin (the silver checker of Russia), mentioned by Gurko and other commanders, stood out." - Well, Gurko roughly did what the cavalry should do. No shine, but even so.
        “It is enough to recall, for example, the Drozdov, Markov and Alekseev divisions ...” - we must also recall the fact that the “colored” units in the best scenario are 20 thousand active bayonets, simultaneously fighting in the territory of about 2-3 regions. By the standards of the Great War, this is not even a corps. The rest of the infantry are just parts of a militia character.
        The Reds have the same story, only a scaled one - an elite core (like the Latvian division) and a lot of "militia".
        As for the technical base - separate operations stood out, of course. For example, the battles for the Kakhovsky bridgehead. In general, a "bloody parody of war" (c)
        1. 0
          30 July 2018 10: 10
          Why is my idea? So it was once planned.
          And not to create cavalry armies, but at least full-fledged corps - in August 1914 they would be very useful. And there was scope, and opportunities, especially in Galicia.
          No adventure, I emphasize. From the first days of the war, the Germans and the French switched to structured cavalry corps, and there was less space on the Western Front. And how much strategic benefit they brought - especially during the Marne and the run to the sea (about this, by the way, is in the first articles of this cycle).
          Moreover, take into account the fact that the German and French cavalry on the Western Theater were equivalent, and the Russian cavalry in August 14 on the Eastern Theater was significantly superior to the German and Austrian cavalry. So if it were reduced to full-fledged masses, but applied in the right directions, and urbanization would not have helped the enemy. How it did not help under Markgrabov - when the Gurkin cavalry took possession of the whole city.
          But, I emphasize, such cavalry corps should have been applied primarily in Galicia, and by no means in East Prussia.
          But in the Civilian degree of saturation of troops with equipment was very high. Small (relatively) army with a large number of machine guns, artillery, armored cars and even tanks. And this did not stop the red cavalry from overcoming the trenches with barbed wire, and successfully fighting armored trains and artillery. Dealing severe defeats, for example, with a fully-fledged and more than packed and managed Polish infantry - for example, in the Novograd-Volyn and Rivne operations.
          1. 0
            30 July 2018 10: 13
            By the way, in 1914 it was quite possible to transfer cavalry from a peaceful state to a military one with minimal effort. She was kept in peacetime in peacetime, and needed to be understaffed minimally.
            Again, you can recall the French and German experience - the corps appeared from the first days of the war
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